Council of Europe report confirms Poland’s illegal detentions

8 06 2007

Source: gazeta.pl portal, 8 June 2007
Author: ulast & Polish Press Agency
Translation: MoPoPressReview

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According to the new Council of Europe’s report CIA had secret prisons in Poland and Romania, in which in the years 2003-2005 people suspected of terrorism were being detained.
Council of Europe rapporteur, Switzerland’s senator Dick Marty released his findings on Friday, stating that the “highest state authorities” of these countries had known about CIA’s actions.

The report on secret CIA detentions in CoE member states, informs that among the people held in Poland were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Abu Zubayda – both important Al-Kaida members.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the mastermind of the 9/11 2001 attacks on New York. Palestinian Abu Zabayda is one of Osama bin Laden’s closest collaborates.

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See also: Council of Europe nails Kwasniewski and WSI as CIA stooges? by the Beatroot

 


If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.





Young Israelis in Poland – continuation

31 05 2007

Please note: this article is continuation of matters raised HERE (click). It is advised to read the former first.

Source: Przekrój of 31 May 2007
Author: Anna Szulc
Translation: MoPoPressReview

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Recently we have written about hotels and aircrafts being wrecked by young Israelis visiting Poland and the brutal interventions of their bodyguards treating local inhabitants like criminals. Reactions were instant.

We got reactions from diplomats, officials, hospitality workers, and journalists too. First in Israel. The Jewish internet portal ynetnews.com published in mid-May an information on Przekrój’s article together with Israeli politicians’ comments. Including Shmuel Abuav, director general at the Israeli Ministry of Education. David Pelog, Israel’s Ambassador to Polandtold the portal, that articles like this show young Israelis in negative light and threaten the future of trips to Poland programme . (…)

Polish Home Office’s reaction was a bit absurd. After over a month after receiving our questions, the Ministry’s spokesman Michal Rachoń informed that in Krakow both the residents and tourists were able to “almost normally” walk on Szeroka street, which hosted Jewish celebrations in April this year. The spokesman has completely disregarded to the excesses mentioned in our article, which were taking place at that time. According to the ministry, there is absolutely no problem whatsoever. ‘Cooperation with Israeli security, up to date, does not imply that their behaviour could be causing any kind of disturbance of public order’ – wrote the spokesman.

We have also received many e-mails from readers describing their – usually unpleasant – encounters with Israeli bodyguards. Restaurateurs and hoteliers, not only from Krakow but from around the country, describe in their letters (unfortunately usually requesting to remain anonymous) their problems with Israeli teenagers and security.

The owner of Krakow’s Astoria Hotel, whom we have mentioned n the article (young Israeli guests burned his carpet), has informed that there is good will in solving the problems. Teenagers’ guardians settled the matter with him fast and in a proper way – and that is why he decided to keep having Israeli teenagers groups in his hotel.

This, unfortunately, is an exception. Many others resign from having troublemaking guests. Last week some of those entrepreneurs complained to the Krakow City Council. Therefore the council members are persuading the mayor to launch a special action informing tourists from Israel on the Polish law.

Will young Israelis start respecting Polish law? Israel’s ambassador assures yes, and the government of Israel will take a closer look on the bodyguards that accompany children, and the schools that organise the visits.

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Przekrój’s interview with David Peleg, Ambassador of Israel in Poland

What is your opinion on the behaviour of Israeli teenagers and its security officers in Poland?
– The Article in “Przekrój” was a surprise for us, and the incidents described there indeed sound serious. We will investigate each described case carefully, and if the accusations confirm, we will take consequences. You have to remember however, that each year 30 thousand young Israelis come to Poland, and such incidents do not characterise the whole Israeli youth. We are intent for Israelis to see contemporary Poland as it really is, without prejudices and stereotypes. All this demand certain changes in current logistics of the visits. You have to remember, that this is a long-lasting process, that changes will not happen overnight.
But why does it have to take long? Is it so difficult to include several meetings with young Poles in the trips agendas?
– Lets remember, that Poland for Israelis is not the same country as for instance the completely neutral Sweden. Poland is for many Israelis, especially the older generation, emotions, it is the Holocaust, but also the after-war memories, not always good. These people are the grandparents of the teenagers who come to Poland. They are in a way programmed by their families. When during social meetings I tell them that Poles and Jews have lived here for many centuries, that Poles were the victims of war just like Jews, young Israelis look at me surprised. And they add, that until now they have known another story.
The more a dialogue is needed, a living exchange of ideas…
– Yes, but this dialogue is possible only now. Previously about many things both Jews and Poles tried not to talk. I have the impression, that only now we can really look into each other’s eyes, and without beating about the bush talk about the things that are painful to us. About stereotypes Israelis may have, but also about Jedwabne, Kielce Pogrom, about March ’68, but also about anti-Semitic graffiti you can see now in Lódz or about Radio Maryja, about new monuments being raised to Dmowski and Kuraś-Ogień, or about the recent ONR (Polish Nationalists) march in Krakow, witnessed by young Jews. They could leave Poland believing they are not welcome.
Like ordinary residents of Krakow and tourists could have the impression they are not welcome by the same young Jews.
-We are going back to where we started: to the changes that need to happen, because it is about two so closely related nations. I can promise once again: if the accusations described in ‘Przekrój’ confirm, those who are guilty will face consequences.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.





It’s not a joke, it’s the Kremlin

16 05 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily of May 16th, 2007 (page 2)
Author: Tomasz Bielecki in Moscow
Translation: Społem

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Russian public prosecutor’s office seeks revenge on lawyer Karinna Moskalenko. She has courage to represent Kremlin’s political enemies in courts.

Moscow investigators don’t bother themselves with keeping up appearances. They accuse the barrister of… not defending her client Michail Khodorkovski good enough. Khodorkowski was the owner of Yukos oil corporation, who in 2005 was sentenced to eight years in lager-prison for being a political competition to Vladimir Putin.

Prosecutors for almost a month have been demanding for her to be debarred, which means she would lose the right to represent people in Russian courts of justice. – ‘When I heard of this for the first time I thought I thought this was a silly joke’ – Moskalenko told Gazeta yesterday. Prosecutor General accuses her, that she had abandoned Khodorkovski during his February hearings in a syberian town of Chika (near the lager, where Khodorkovski serves his sentence), that she “didn’t fulfil her duties as a barrister”.

Moskalenko explaines, that the imprisoned oligarch was accopanied then by three other lawyers, and that her departure from Chika was agreed upon with Khodorkovski. – ‘Suddenly the prosecutors, who have persecuted him from several years, start to pretend to care for his welfare. This is a material for a grotesque play’ – says the Russian lawyer.

Karinna Moskalenko is the president of Russian Institute for International Legal Defence. The Institute helps Russians facing political repression in fighting justice before international courts.

She defends not only Khodorkovski. She also leads cases of opposition activists, who are being dragged through courts for illegal demonstrations. She represents the families of the victims of Nord-Ost Theatre terrorist attack on Dubrovka, who want a fair trial for police forces involved. Their incompetence and urge to liquidate terrorists fast caused – as say the relatives of the victims – the death of many hostages.

What do the prosecutors venge for? For Khodorkovski? For Dubrovka? – ‘I’m not sure. Since the nineties I’ve been dealing with difficult cases, and apparently I got into their bad books big time. However I don’t feel anything threatens me, even though maybe I should’ – says Moskalenko.

The law lecturer, who at least once a month appears in Strasbourg to fight for the rights of Russians before the International Tribunal of Justice, believes that even in Russia you don’t have to be at the mercy of Kremlin.

Two months ago, to the surprise of of Russian opposition, a group of lawyers including Karinna Moskalenko, have won a case in Moscow against the Prosecutor General. Also a court has decided that the trial against Khodorkovski cannot proceed in siberian Chika, but in Moscow. Which is important, because the trial against Putin’s political enemy can be observed by journalists, and Kremlin’s authoritarian practices will once again make headlines around the world.

Russian public prosecutor’s office has already twice tried to debar Khodorkovski’s lawyers. However the Moscow Bar had strongly rejected its motions. Moskalenko hopes it will be the same this time.

Wouldn’t it be easier to defend thieves, thugs and hooligans? – ‘Few days ago a court fined Garri Kasparov for his participation in an “illegal demonstration”. I found out about this in Strasbourg, from where one can see better how far we are from Europe. In my country the rule of law cannot look like this. Once again I had this thought in my head, that I will not gibe up my fight’.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 





Israeli teenagers are a nuisance in Poland

11 05 2007

Source: Przekrój weekly of May the 10th 2007
Link to original article in Polish
Author: Anna Szulc
English translation: MoPoPressReview

The list of losses Israeli teenagers’ visits leave behind is long and costly. It begins with burned carpets in Polish hotels, and ends with Jewish teenagers’ trauma. But more and more often with local residents’ trauma too.

Roberto Lucchesini, originally from Tuscany, for several years now a resident of Krakow, hasn’t been sleeping well recently. Before he will be able to move his arms normally again, he will have to go through long rehab. All this because of how he was treated, in broad daylight in front of passers-by and several teenagers who were hermetically closed in their coach-buses. Israeli bodyguards, equipped with firearms, binded his arms behind his back over his head with handcuffs. In Krakow, in the middle of the street. A moment before, the Italian was trying to make coach drivers parking in front of his house turn their engines off. – ‘Israelis handcuffed me, threw me on the ground, my face landed in dog excrement, and then they were kicking me’. After that the perpetrators were gone. Italian had to be freed by the Polish police.

Lucchesini moved to Kazimierz, a district of Kraków, that used to be a Jewish commune of which the only things left now are synagogues and memories, often painful. He found an apartment with a view on the synagogue. – ‘Back then I had thought this was the most beautiful place on Earth’ – he says – ‘after some time I understood that the place is indeed beautiful, but not for its today’s residents’.

Kicking instead of answers

Another resident of Kazimierz, Beata W., office worker, is of similar opinion. Israeli security searched her handbag on one of the streets, without telling her why.
‘When I asked what was this all about, they told me to shut up. I listened, I stopped talking, I was afraid they’d tell me to get undressed next’ – she says annoyed.
A young polish Jew, who as usual in Sabbath, went to pray in his synagogue couple months ago, also didn’t get his answer. He only asked, why can’t he enter the temple. Instead of an answer, he got kicked.
‘I saw this with my own eyes’ – says Mike Urbaniak, the editor of Forum Of Polish Jews and correspondent of European Jewish Press in Poland. – ‘I saw how my friend is being brutally attacked by security agents from Israel, without any reason.’

All this apparently in sake of Israeli childrens’ safety.
‘For Poles it may be difficult to understand, but security agents accompany Israelis at all times, both in Israel and abroad’ – explains Michał Sobelman, a spokesman for Israeli embassy in Poland. – ‘This is a parents’ demand, otherwise they wouldn’t agree for any kind of trip. Poland is no exception.’

But it was in Poland, as Mike Urbaniak reports, where Jews from Israel brutally kicked a Polish Jew in front of a synagogue, and then threatened him with prison. In plain view of the Israeli teenagers.

‘We are very sorry when we hear about such incidents’ – Sobelman admits – ‘Detailed analysis is carried out in each case. We will do everything we can, to prevent such situations in the future. Maybe we will have to change training methods of our security agents, so that they would know Poland is not like Israel, that the scale of threats here is insignificant?

Professor Moshe Zimmermann, head of German History Institute at Hebrew University in Jerusalem thinks however, that the problem is not only in the security agents’ behaviour. He thinks Israelis basically think that Poles aren’t equal partners for them. And it’s not only that they think Poles can’t ensure their children’s safety.

‘They are not equal partners to any kind of discussion. It applies also to our common history, contemporary history and politics. In result Israeli youth see Poles as second category people, as potential enemies’ – he explains bluntly.

An instruction on conduct with the local inhabitants given away to Israeli teenagers coming to Poland couple years ago may confirm professor’s opinion. It contained such a paragraph: ‘Everywhere we will be surrounded by Poles. We will hate them because of their participation in Holocaust’.

‘Agendas of our teenagers’ trips to Poland are set in advance by the Israeli government, and are not flexible’ – says Ilona Dworak-Cousin, the chairwoman of the Polish-Israeli Friendship Association in Israel. – ‘Those trips basically come down to visiting, one by one, the places of extermination of Jews. From that perspective Poland is just a huge Jewish graveyard. And nothing more. Meeting living people, for those who organise these trips, is meaningless.’

A resident of Kraków’s Kazimierz district, who is of Jewish descent, says that there is nothing wrong with that: – ‘Israelis don’t come to Poland for holiday. Their aim is to see the sites of Shoah and listen to the terrifying history of their families, history that often is not told to them by their grandparents, because of its emotional weight. Often young people who are leaving, cry, phone their parents and say “why didn’t you tell me it was that horrible?”. To be frank, I am not surprised they have no interest in talking about Lajkonik.

However according to Ilona Dworak-Cousin the lack of contact with Poles, causes Israeli youth to confuse victims with the perpetrators. – ‘They start to think it were the Poles who created concentration camps for Jews, that it is the Polish who were and still are the biggest anti-Semites in the world’ – adds Dworak-Cousin, who is Jewish herself.

The above mentioned Kraków resident has a different opinion. – ‘I don’t believe anyone was telling them that the Poles had been doing this. That’s why there is no need for discussing anything with the Poles’.

Teenagers behaving badly

However, many Israelis say that although the instruction was eventually changed, the attitude to Poles has not changed at all.
‘Someone in Israel some day decided, that our children going to Poland have to be hermetically surrounded by security’ – says Lili Haber president of Cracovians Association in Israel. – ‘Someone decided that young Israelis cannot meet young Poles, and cannot walk the streets. Basically these visits aren’t anything else but a several-day-long voluntary prison.’

Voluntary, but also very expensive: 1400 USD per person. Not every Israeli parent can afford such a trip.

‘Moreover, as it turns out, the children are too young, to visit sites of mass murders’ – adds dr Ilona Dworak-Cousin. Traumatic experiences that accompany visits in death camps have its consequences. Kids become aggressive. And instead of getting to know the country of their ancestors, in which Jews and Poles lived in symbiosis for over 1000 years, Israeli teenagers cause one scandal after another.

It happens sometimes, that somewhere between Majdanek and Treblinka, young Israelis spend their time on striptease ordered via the hotel telephone. It happens sometimes, that the hotel service has to collect human excrement from hotel beds and washbasins. It happens sometimes, that hotels have to give money back to other tourists, who cannot sleep because Israeli kids decided to play football in hotel corridor. In the middle of the night.

6-year-old Krzys from Kazimierz played football too. On Sunday night on 15th April, after shooting two goals, he wanted to go home, as usual. He lives near a synagogue, in front of which hundreds of young Israelis have gathered on celebrations preceding March of Living. Just before Szeroka street he was stopped by some not-so-nice men. – ‘This is a semi-private area today. There is no entry’ – he was told. It didn’t help, when he told them, his mum will get upset if he won’t be home on time.

Security officers, which is interesting, were Polish this time and accompanied by the Polish police. They also denied access to the area to a Dutch couple, who had reserved a table at one of the restaurants on Szeroka street six months ago. – ‘Is this a free country?’ – One of the tourists tried to make sure.

On a normal day you can access Szeroka street from several sides. That evening from none. I tried to get through myself, without any success. Only eventually, the police helped me to pass the security line.

‘There are no official restrictions here’ – they were convincing me a moment later, although the “unofficial practice” was different.

– ‘We have only set certain restrictions in movement’ – Sylvia Bober-Jasnoch, a spokeswoman for Malopolska Region Police press service, explained to me later.

The police cannot say anything else. Polish law does not allow residents to be denied access to the streets they live at. Even during the so called mass events (however the celebrations on Szeroka did not have that status) residents have the right to go back to their homes and tourists have the right to dine in a restaurant. Also Israeli security agents have no right to stop or search passers-by.

I tried to find out more on the rights of Israeli security agents in Poland. First at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from where my question was sent to…. the Ministry of Education. I have also sent questions to the Home Office. Although I was promised, I received no answer. Only person eager to talk on that matter was Maciej Kozłowski, former ambassador in Israel, currently the Plenipotentiary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Polish-Israeli relations.

‘Regulations are imprecise’ – admits Kozłowski. ‘Basically bodyguards from a foreign country should not move around Poland armed. However for the government of Israel security matters are a priority. Any convincing that their citizens should use the services of Polish security turned unsuccessful’.

Airplane like battle field

The Polish-Italian couple, Robert Lucchesini, his wife Anna, and their two-year-old daughter, cannot understand Polish government’s attitude. Which contrary to the Israeli government, is not able to ensure the safety of its citizens. Safety is not the only thing among the pair’s priorities, but also peace and quietness. They are however being woken up every morning by the loud noises of engines, of the Polish coach-buses with groups of Israeli youth. Their Polish drivers brake driving regulations all the time. They’re allowed to park at the square near the synagogue (in front of Robert’s house) only for up to 10 minutes. They stay there much longer, even hours. With their engines turned on. Reason? Youth’s safety – they would be able to leave quicker in case of a threat. And because Israeli kids need to be served coffee. Because even though Kazimierz is full of cafes, Israeli teenagers don’t go there. They are being told: no contacts with environment, no talking to passers-by, no smiles nor gestures.

This has been going for years. Israeli groups contact with Poles only there where they have to. First in airplanes.

‘A plane after such group has landed, looks like a battle field’ – admits a worker of LOT Polish Airlines asking for his name not to be published. – ‘The worst thing is these kids’ attitude to Polish staff. Recently a stewardess was slapped by a teenager in her face. Because he had been waiting for his coca-cola too long’.

Leszek Chorzewski, LOT spokesman, admits that Israeli youth is a difficult customer. – ‘They demand not only more attention then other passengers, but also more security precautions’ – he adds. These precautions are long aircraft and airport controls conducted by Israeli services. These are also the high demands of the teenagers’ security agents.

Katarzyna Łazuga, student from Poznań, could see that first hand. She participated in a tourist guides’ training on one of Polish airports. ‘Young people from Israel entered the room we were in’, she recalls. – ‘Our group was then made to stop classes and rushed out of the room. Israeli security officers told us to go out, right now and without any talking. Because… we were “staring” at their clients. Yes, we were looking at them. They were catching attention, they were good looking.’

Young Israelis see Poles also there, where they board – in Polish hotels. If any of them still wants to have them. Most of those in Kraków don’t want to any more.

‘We have resigned from admitting Israeli youth once and for all’ – admits Agnieszka Tomczyk, assistant manageress in a chain of hotels called System. ‘We could not afford to refund the loses after their stays any more’.

These loses being: demolished rooms, broken chairs and tables, human excrements in washbasins or trash bins, or like in Astoria, other hotel in Kraków, burned carpet. Astoria also backs out from having Israeli groups. One of the reasons is that the teenagers’ security agents were ordering other guests, whom they didn’t like, to leave.

‘I understand that Israeli security agents are over-sensitive to any disturbing signals. They are coming from a country where bombs explode almost daily, and young people die in terrorist attacks’ – ensures Mike Urbaniak. – ‘But Poland is one of the safest countries in Europe. Here, excluding tiny number of incidents, Jews are not being attacked, and Jewish institutions don’t need security, which is very unusual on a world scale’.

Huge business

Chasidim, travelling in great numbers from Israel, also (surprisingly) don’t need security agents. Including for example many Orthodox Jews, who came to visit our country recently, as they wanted to pray at Tzadik of Lelów’s grave. They came to the market square in Kazimierz without any security assistance and without any fear.

‘They chatted eagerly with tourists interested in their outfits, with passers-by who don’t see Jews with side curls every day’ – adds Urbaniak.

In Kazimierz chasidim are nothing unusual. Like groups of Israeli teenagers. This year 30,000 Israeli teenagers are coming to Poland, and they will have 800 security agents to protect them.

Roberto Lucchesini reported to the Polish police that he got beaten by Israeli security. Krakow Prosecution Office is investigating the case, and so is its counterpart in Israel.

‘Results of this investigation are of medium importance’ – thinks Ilona Dworak-Cousin. – ‘What matters is if the youth that visits Poland, will still treat it as hostile and completely alien country’.

Polish-Israeli Friendship Association in Israel and Cracovians Association in Israel both try to convince the government of their country, not to send any more teenagers to see only the death camps in Poland. Chances are slim.

‘These trips are mostly a huge business for people who organise them’ – says Lili Haber – ‘including Israeli bodyguards’.

C O M M E N T S

Szewach Weiss, former speaker of Knesseth, former Israel’s ambassador in Poland:
I have a dream: I would like Israeli youth to come to Poland not only to see death camps, but also to see the life of Polish cities and towns. That they would even stay under one roof with Polish young people, so that after some time Poles would visit them back in Israel, that Poles would be invited and welcomed there. Is that one of those dreams that will never come true? I don’t think so, I believe that it will come true in 5 years at worst. In the meanwhile the most important thing is to change the current form of Israeli teenagers’ trips. A perfect solution would be direct contact between Israeli and Polish schools. That would have given a real chance to talk, exchange ideas, or even have an argument. I would however like the Poles to understand our difficult position, how deep is in us that idea that our children could lose their lives, even in a country as peaceful as yours. Of course that does not give anyone right to brutal behaviour towards Poles. Aggression is aggression, regardless of circumstances.

Yuli Amir, Israel’s Education Minister:
I think that Israeli youth doesn’t think good or bad about Poland or Poles. These trips are more about them, their Jewish identity. This is such Jewish feeling, that the whole world was against us, and Poland was on the wrong side too. You have to remember, that for many years Israeli youth has been rejecting Holocaust. For them it was a specimen, of how not to act. “Why did we go like sheep for death?”Holocaust was that weakness, they didn’t want to identify with. By coming to Auschwitz they have started to treat the victims of Shoah differently. This is a moral rehabilitation of Jewish past. of course we are aware of imperfections of the visits programme, we are considering changes. We discuss a lot, we think what influence these trips have on youth, on education. But all changes need time.

Mike Urbaniak, editor of Forum Of Polish Jews and correspondent of European Jewish Press in Poland:
I have met many Israelis in my life. Most of them are great, cheerful and exceptionally open people. They don’t have superiority complex. Everyone, who has at least once been in Israel has to admit that. In Poland however their image is getting worse and worse. And this will continue, if those trips will still look like a visit in countryside museum. This is a problem that needs to be solved in Israel as soon as possible.

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See also » Young Israelis in Poland – continued


If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.





“Tribunal defends local council members and mayors”

14 03 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily, March 14th 2007.
Original author: Ewa Siedlecka

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The Constitutional Tribunal decided yesterday, that the statue punishing the publicly elected local governments members with reclaiming their seats for not having produced a financial statement in time provided, is against The Constitution Of The Republic Of Poland. Before the sentence was given, the prime minister threatened: ‘We have to seriously consider some new model of functioning of the Tribunal.
Judges Ewa Łętowska (left) and Teresa LiszczDoes this sentence mean they will keep their seats? It is not clear. Probably, however, administrative courts that will deal with local officials’ appeals to Palatines’ decisions regarding taking their mandates away, will take this sentence into account. The sentence affects 765 people of local governments, including the mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz of opposition Citizens Platform Party (PO).

The Tribunal started to give out its verdict at 3 p.m., althouth the tension was rising from the morning. In a radio interview the prime-minister suggested that Gronkiewicz-Waltz is in league with the Tribunal, because in her latter to the Palatine of Masovia ‘she revealed that she knows what legal arguments the Tribunal will take into account‘.

He repeated that suggestion just before the verdict: ‘If the reasoning presented in the letter to the Palatine of Masovia was applied, it would mean that Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is informed about about Tribunal sentences in advance. That would be another argument for a serious discussion about a new form for the Tribunal’.

The prime-minister also said that he hopes ‘the Tribunal will not use any circus tricks’. However the verdict was not pleasing for him.

Tribunal has decided that it is against The Constitution to punish the members of local councils and mayors with a loss of seat, not only in case when they did not produce their financial statements in time, but also when they did not produce them at all.

‘The sanction of the loss of mandate, applied only to achieve the financial transparency of the people in power is permissible. However applying it to those, who were slightly late with their financial reports, is not necessary to achieve that aim. And it breaches the constitutional rule of proportionality’ – said judge Ewa Łętowska in the name of the Tribunal.

She also pointed out to the unclear procedure of taking away the mandates: – ‘If you use such a drastic sanction, procedures should be very precise’.

The Tribunal has also decided that the obligation of producing financial report of the official’s spouse is unconstitutional. This was the ground, for Palatine of Masovia’s decision to take away Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s seat.

Here, as The Tribunal said in its verdict, the rule of proportionality was also breached. As well as the rule of decent legislation, as the act does not clearly say when is the deadline for producing spouses’ financial report.

The verdict takes effect with the day of being published in The Journal of Laws. However it does not mean that administrative courts or local governments can ignore it until then.

‘As far as local governments are concerned it would have been best if they postponed any decisions in these matters until the verdict comes into effect’ – Ewa Łętowka told journalists after the trial.

‘The Courts however will do as they think is right. However from the moment of this verdict, this act is no longer under the supposition of constitutionality’.

What does that mean? The courts have to obey The Constitution, and therefore they can deny applying the statue which is colliding with it, although the statue was in force in the moment of local elections.

Five judges of the Tribunal have taken part in the trial, two of which – Teresa Liszcz and Zbigniew Cieślak – were chosen for this office by Sejm three months ago with the votes of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS). None of the judges has issued votum separatum.

* * *

Editorial comment of Gazeta Wyborcza.
Author: Jarosław Kurski

This was not the first time, when prime-minister makes disdainful remarks on the Tribunal. We remember his words ‘Disgusting, cowardly opportunists’, ‘unimpressive group of wisemen’, ‘lie-elites‘ of plotters who settle their own interests.
This time prime-minister talked about ‘circus tricks’. He insinuated that the Tribunal is plotting together with Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. He threatened that ‘we need to seriously think about a new form for the the Tribunal’. It all happened an hour before the sentence. You cannot describe prime-minister’s words different, than as an attempt to pressurise an independent constitutional court. Not a first attempt. Prime-mister is making us used to his breachings of legal culture of the state. We cannot agree to that.
Yesterdays sentence is the triumph of the rule of law. If it was up to PiS, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz would have stopped being mayor long ago.
Thankfully the prime-minister does not have enough power to execute his threat and “reforem” the Tribunal. The Tribunal is protected by The Consitution. No one has won with it, and lets hope it stays that way.

Professor Andrzej Zoll, former Ombudsman, comments for Gazeta Wyborcza:
Mr prime-minister has been devaluing the Tribunal for a very long time. Such pressure, threatening is, using his words, anti-Polish. I think that anywhere in Europe such remark would have cost a prime-minister his job. I do not expect such a reaction in Poland.
I know that the Tribunal will not surrender to pressure. independent Tribunal is the only hope, that we will not end up as a totalitarian state.

Professor Marek Safjan, former Chairman of the Constutional Tribunal, comments for Gazeta Wyborcza:
Well, I cannot say I am surprised with these remarks, as they match the tone which we have heard from the prime-minister from a long time. You can see some elements of pressurising the Tribunal in it. I am convinced however, that the judges are immune to that, like thay have been until now.
The fact that the sentence was in accordance with a certain, possible to be foreseen, legal argumentation, means only as much as the actions of the Tribunal are transparent. That there are no ‘circus tricks’ only clear, obvious and predictable argumentation.
However the threat of ‘reshaping the construction of the Tribunal’ it is really dangerous, as a reaction to the fact that Tribunal’s sentences are not in accordance with the wishes of executive power. This is a hit in the basics of the rule of law.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.